More alleged robocalls surface in provincial elections

During last weeks’ provincial elections in Quebec the Liberal Party made claims that they were the victims of a robocall scandal.

The calls were reported to have been made in English and were made falsely under the name of the Liberal party in at least two electoral ridings, which are considered to be prominently French speaking areas.

The alleged robocalls were sent out on Sept. 3, just one day before the elections were to take place. The Liberal Party quickly filed complaints with the province’s police department over the issue when news of the calls spread.

The Liberal Party believes that these calls were made intentionally and were motivated by malicious intentions to hamper the party, possibly by ruining their chances at a victory or by attacking their reputation.

According to a statement from the Liberals, “All these calls are false and obviously emanate from an organization or individuals who want to harm the Liberal Party.”

The calls allegedly attempted to redirect potential voters to either wrong voting stations or to altogether nonexistent voting stations. Other calls were also reported that were not automated but were individuals personally phoning potential voters claiming to be representatives of the Liberal Party.

The results of the provincial election were released on Wednesday, Sept. 5 and showed, what is said to be, a narrow victory for the Parti Québécois.

It is possible the results of the election were swayed by the recent issues over the student’s tuition increase. Pauline Marois, the leader of the Parti Québécois, included the roll back of student tuition hikes as a part of her electoral platform, which may have won her votes from students who are in opposition to the tuition increase.

Although some robocalls are, in fact, permissible in elections, such as calls to gather information on party support or to deliver voting information to potential voters, other types of robocalls are prohibited. This includes calls that inhibit voting or are otherwise attempting to undermine the voting procedure.

Controversy over robocall scandals in Canada first came to light during the federal election of 2011, in which the Conservative party was accused of using automated robocalls to redirect voters in areas that showed a low rate of support for the Conservative party to a false voting station.
The calls in this case were claiming to be made under the name of Elections Canada, but were discovered to have been commissioned though a cell phone under the name “Pierre Poutine.”

Investigations into the 2011 electoral robocalls are still ongoing and Elections Canada has reportedly spent $240,000 on the investigation thus far.

The conservative party has denied any involvement with this most recent case of robocalls, and the Liberal Party has not outright accused any particular party of being the perpetrators of the robocalls.